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Moonshine, a Sheriff, and an Irishman

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Here’s a photo of a group of early pioneers and early leaders of Denton standing in front of the courthouse. The date is unknown but a guess is around 1900. What a bunch of characters!

My great-great-grandpa Peter O’Reilly is on the left. Sheriff W.C. Orr is on the far right. 
Peter and Sheriff Orr both were passionate about shaping the city of Denton and ran in the same circles. One thing they didn’t agree on though was alcohol. Selling alcohol was a hot topic in Denton. Peter was for it, Sheriff Orr wasn’t. 
Sheriff Orr once arrested Peter after finding moonshine on Peter’s farm. The jail was at Orr’s home. His wife was an amazing cook and fed the jailers. When Peter left jail after his 11-day stint, the story goes that Peter tipped his hat and asked if he could come back for dinner:)
A few years ago I went into the museum at the Denton courthouse. I began talking to a volunteer, and she introduced herself as the great-granddaughter of a former Denton sheriff and banker named W.C. Orr.  I said with a smile, “your great-grandpa arrested my great-great-grandpa!” We had a good laugh about it:)
Peter came to Denton in 1874 by work on the railroad. He married twice and had 11 children. By the time of his death in 1938, he had buried five of his children and both of his wives. 
Peter often drank at Paschall’s, which is still going strong in Denton and is now a speakeasy. I love having a drink there and looking around the place thinking my great-great-grandfather once stood on those floors. There are lots more stories about Peter — he definitely left his mark on Denton! 


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